University of Alabama offers free Parenting Assistance Line (PAL)

PAL’s number is ​1-866-962-3030

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Parent resource specialists are available from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Messages can be left at any time. PAL’s number is ​1-866-962-3030. (PAL)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Child Development Resources department of The University of Alabama’s (UA) College of Human Environmental Sciences’ Parents Assistance Line (PAL) is a free resource for all Alabama parents and has seen more usage since Governor Kay Ivey’s Stay at Home Order.

PAL’s website states: “We are a free, confidential resource for parents like you. Whether you need resources to deal with a problem child or just a reassuring voice, PAL can mean a big difference. And it’s absolutely free.”

The Tribune was able to speak with PAL Parent Resource Specialist Amy Walker for more specifics on the line.

“I provide resources to parents,” she said. “Sometimes parents call and need to find counseling services, or parenting classes, etc. We are here to help with those kinds of things also. I am on the phone line but also exhibit for PAL at events, too. If someone calls, texts or chats after hours they can leave a voicemail or email their question or concern. We will get back to them the next day.”

Walker shared the impact the pandemic has had on PAL.

“The number of calls has increased, but our website and Facebook page have really seen a jump in activity,” she said. “We are handling everything remotely and trying to help parents work through things!  They sometimes mainly want to talk and vent, so we are here to listen.  We are posting articles and information dealing with the pandemic on our website and Facebook page every day.”

She gave this advice for parents to help cope with being at home: “We encourage parents to come up with a routine. This is something very new for most people and if you establish some sort of routine life will be a little easier! If you don’t fulfill every bullet point on that routine that is OK, too. Don’t stress over the little things. Take time to get outside. Also, take time for yourself if you can. You might have to tag team with your husband or wife, but having a little time to yourself will help your stress level. Give your children responsibilities for things around the house.  If they take ownership of something then they will benefit from accomplishing things.”

She added this idea for parents going stir crazy: “It’s tough not being able to go to a friend’s house, but parents are getting creative and having ‘drive by’ play dates if it’s only to say hello and talk for a few minutes. Your children, especially the younger ones, probably do not understand why they can’t get out and see people. I encourage parents to be honest and tell them that it is to make sure everyone stays healthy and safe. Too much information might only confuse them.”

PAL was founded March 1, 2007, the idea of former Alabama First Lady Patsy Riley, and later started as a collaboration between UA’s Child Development Resource Center and the Alabama Trust Fund. It received help and promotion from Riley to advance it further. According to PAL’s website, Riley’s vision for PAL “was to provide parents across the state the kind of support they need to become more confident and successful parents, recognizing that parenting can be tough!”

When should parents contact PAL?

Walker answered, “Anytime is perfect! PAL is an anonymous confidential line and takes calls from all sorts of people! We want parents to call, text or chat with us anytime, but especially before they take their frustrations out on their children! Sometimes parents need someone to just talk to and someone that will lend a sympathetic ear and that is what we are hear for also. We are objective and neutral so lots of times parents find it easier to talk to us versus a family member.”

According to the site’s demographics, “Calls have been received by every county in Alabama as well as 40 other states and Canada.”

All parent resource specialists callers speak with hold undergraduate or graduate degrees in human development or family studies and have received specialized training in relating to families.

Parent resource specialists are available from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Messages can be left at any time. PAL’s number is 1-866-962-3030.

Aside from phone calls and texts, PAL also offers these forms of contact:

  • Phone line: Call or text 866-962-3030 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays to reach a parenting resource specialist.
  • Chat online: Chat with a resource specialist through the chat app on the website, pal.ua.edu/.
  • Email: Use the contact form on our website to send a question via email.
  • Website: Find a wealth of parenting tips, strategies and resources at pal.ua.edu/.
  • Newsletter: Sign up to receive PAL’s email newsletter.
  • Printed literature: Request supplemental information be mailed.

For more information, visit pal.ua.edu/ or www.Facebook.com/AlabamaParentingAssistanceLine or https://pal.ua.edu/parenting-during-a-pandemic/.

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